Photo Credit: Art Santry

Sailing History Resurfaces as Maxi Class Added to 2024 ORC World Championship

Beneath the floorboards of Newport’s saltier watering holes lie tales from the maritime glory days of the 1980s and 1990s when the Maxi class dominated the seas. As the southwesterly seabreeze whispers through the coastal town, veteran sailors reminisce about the echoing sounds of wire sheets and overtaxed aluminum rigs grappling with spinnakers resembling circus tents.

Art Santry, a seasoned sailor, reflects on the bygone era, stating, “The last Maxi worlds I did was in 1987. Back then, you had eight of them, the crews were big, and it was a lot of fun. Late summer was a great time of year to do it because the town was a little quieter, and you could take over Thames Street.”

Although the spectacle of eight 80-footers gracing Newport’s waters may be a distant memory, Santry anticipates the revival of Maxi-class excitement at the 2024 ORC World Championship. Scheduled from September 27 to October 5 at the New York Yacht Club Harbour Court in Newport, this event will witness 60- to 80-footers, including Santry’s 66-foot Temptation Oakcliff Sailing, competing for the North American title. The Maxi Class will forgo the overnight contest, focusing on buoy and coastal races.

Santry passionately describes the speed of these majestic yachts, asserting, “You’re going upwind at 11.8 knots and downwind at 20-plus. It’s outrageous. You can’t believe how fast these things go.”

The Offshore Racing Congress (ORC), a global leader in yacht rating systems since 1969, is thrilled to include the Maxi class in the 2024 championship. While traditionally capping at 50 feet, the ORC eagerly welcomes these ocean thoroughbreds, showcasing fair competition among various yacht classes.

Andrew McIrvine, Secretary General for the International Maxi Association, commends the initiative, stating, “It is good to see a new stimulus for Maxi competition in North America, once the home of many classic maxis.”

The 2024 ORC World Championship promises a diverse fleet, with the inclusion of Maxi class boats alongside smaller, more popular classes. Bruno Finzi, Chairman of ORC, expresses excitement, saying, “We are ready to help showcase use of our system of rating and scoring tools to help create fair racing among these exceptional yachts.”

Confirmed Maxi class entrants include the 66-foot Temptation Oakcliff Sailing and the 74-foot Foggy, co-skippered by New York Yacht Club Commodore Jay Cross and Richard Cohen. Foggy, designed by Germán Frers with input from Frank Gehry, combines artistry with performance, boasting a carbon core beneath its beautiful wood exterior.

As the 2024 ORC World Championship approaches, Newport prepares to host a thrilling reunion with the Maxi class, adding a new chapter to its rich maritime history.




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